Entry requirements, skills and interests (human resources manager)

You could enter a role in human resources at an adminstrative role, with A levels, a degree or with relevant experience gained from outside the NHS (depending on the role)

Entry requirements

There are a variety of entry routes into a career in human resources (HR) management. The following are general entry requirements and so for specific entry requirements check the person specification for individual job vacancies.

With moderate to high grade GCSEs and/or work experience

You can join the NHS at an administrative level (eg within an HR department) and work your way up to HR management, supported by in-house and external training schemes. For most junior positions, you will need 4 or 5 GCSEs at Grades A-C or equivalent. Employers may also consider applicants with fewer formal qualifications if they can demonstrate they have the right skills, for example, previous clerical experience. There are opportunities to enter administrative roles through an apprenticeship in a relevant area of administration.

With A levels/equivalent

If you have 2 or 3 A-levels or equivalent vocational qualifications you may be able to start at a higher administrative grade, leading to a supervisory role in HR and then into management. Internal and external training schemes, will assist your progress and enable you to apply your academic skills to work situations. Previous work experience can be an advantage. There are sometimes higher apprenticeships available

As a graduate

If you have a degree or equivalent vocational qualifications you can apply for junior management posts or apply for entry on the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme in which you can specialise in human resource management, which incorporates qualifications from the Chartered Institute or Personnel and Development (CIPD).

As well as the fast-track graduate scheme, depending on your degree and your employment experience, you may be able to apply directly for junior management vacancies.

If you already have management experience

For more senior HR roles such as assistant HR director or director of HR, you would typically need appropriate membership of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. You may also need a Masters in Business Administration.

We welcome applications from people who have already built up appropriate HR management experience in the private sector or in other public or voluntary organisations. You can often join at a level corresponding to your skills and expertise. Some managers are recruited directly for specific positions.

Find out more about the training you’ll receive for a career in HR management.

  • For a career in HR management, you’ll need a variety of skills and qualities, typically including:

    • the ability to build relationships with staff at all levels
    • good communication skills
    • leadership skills
    • organisational skills
    • a willingness to work with others and respect their views
    • confidence with numbers
    • confidence with computers and IT
    • negotiating skills
    • the ability to challenge the way things are and find better alternatives
    • honesty and fairness in dealing with other people

    If you're applying for a role either directly in the NHS or in an organisation that provides NHS services you'll be asked to show how you think the NHS values apply in your everyday work. The same will be true if you're applying for a university course funded by the NHS.

    The NHS values form a key part of the NHS Constitution.

    Find out more about the NHS Constitution

    Ultimately, the skills and qualifications you’ll need will vary according to the type of post, so it's really important to check the details of the person specification for the vacancy you're applying for.

    For example, as an assistant director of HR specialising in workforce development, you’re likely to need a postgraduate qualification in a development related subject or membership of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. As a divisional HR manager, you’re likely to need operational experience in a progressive HR function, at least part of which has been gained at an operational level in the NHS, and to hold an appropriate HR qualification.

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